Standing Safely in God's Grace Pastor Bodden
Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23 “Standing Safely in God’s Grace”
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come. Amen.
What makes you feel safe? Secure? When the world seems crazy and out of your control, what brings you comfort? Let’s just start with the ideas of earthly comfort to start off with. Maybe it’s curling up with a good book and just taking a break from the worry. Some people cope with stress with their favorite foods, or watching their favorite movie. When it seems like the world is pressing in on us, it’s comforting to retreat into those things that are familiar and comfortable. We want to feel safe. But when it comes to real threats of the world—sin and the Devil—we have only one really safe place to stand. And of course, that’s in the Grace of God. It’s a good place to be, because only God can guard us from everything that can hurt us. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll never face physical pain or suffering. That doesn’t mean that we won’t die because of persecution. Look at how many times in the Bible believers were killed because they followed God. Stephen who was stoned to death because the Jews were angry that he tried to teach them about Jesus. James, the brother of John, was killed by King Herod because the Christian church was growing and he tried to put an end to it. All of the believers in the Bible who were murdered because they followed their Savior. We could even add Abel to that list, murdered by his own brother Cain. Where was God? I thought he was supposed to protect! But he did. These believers were kept safe in faith and brought home to God’s side. Just as he promises. That’s what gives us believers such confidence. But what if we find ourselves in the same place as Daniel?
After all, Daniel was facing a pretty bad situation. He was hated. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of enemies too. People who just don’t like us because we we’re Christians. They think we are irrational, uneducated, and dangerous. They don’t want us to spread the Gospel because they want Christianity to just go away. Censored from the public because of what they see as unloving backwards teachings. They would love to legally force us to keep our belief to ourselves. But while plenty of people would do just about anything to get rid of Christianity, most of us have never faced enemies who are literally planning our deaths. Daniel’s enemies were. They were so jealous of Daniel and the wisdom that God gave him, these men wanted him dead. King Darius had decided to make Daniel one of three administrators. These administrators watched over 120 men called satraps who were kind of like governors. Daniel did such an amazing job serving King Darius that it made the other 2 administrators and the 120 satraps angry. So they tried to find something, anything, that Daniel was doing wrong so that they could get rid of him. But that didn’t work. So they tricked the King into making a new law that would make it illegal to worship anything or anyone else other than the king for 30 days. They knew that Daniel loved God and would keep on worshiping him even with the new law. This is a pretty elaborate scheme just to get rid of Daniel. What would you do in Daniel’s place? Would you just stop praying to God for those 30 days? Would you let your enemies chase you away from your Savior?
Would you be as bold as Daniel? Because he knew what law the king had made. Even though it was pushed on him by his enemies, Daniel knew that it would still be enforced. And if Daniel didn’t know before that these 122 men hated him so much and wanted to get rid of him, well…now he is fully aware of it. But it didn’t stop him. Knowing that he would very likely be facing death, Daniel kept doing what he always did: “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10) He was bold. He refused to let these men stop him from serving his God. He refused to let what others thought of him from following his Lord. Would we be so bold? I would like to say “yes” but look how easy it is for us to hide what we believe. We’re afraid what others will think about us. And so we are careful about who we talk to about our God. Daniel didn’t hide his faith but kept praying even though he knew it would most likely mean he would be lion food. But how many Christians refuse to give a prayer of thanks for their food because they are sitting in the middle of McDonalds and are embarrassed or worried what others will think? How often do we bring our Bibles into public and read them where others might see? How often have we had the perfect opportunity to talk about God with others, but are worried someone might be offended? We’re afraid even when the worst that might happen to us is someone rolling their eyes are being made fun of. Instead of standing boldly in God, we are tempted to hide who we are.
Now of course God kept Daniel safe from spiritual harm, but why did he save Daniel from the lions’ den? There are plenty of examples of other faithful Christians who died at the hands of their enemies, so why Daniel? After all, he was just a sinner like us. What made Daniel so special? Daniel himself; nothing. But the one who promised to watch over him and care for him: that’s who made Daniel so special. Because it was God who worked faith in that young man’s heart. It was God who promised that all of his sins were forgiven. It was God who gave Daniel strength to be bold and to continue on, even when it seemed like the world was crumbling around him. Because this message isn’t about Daniel. It’s about his God and our God. Our God who gives us boldness and strength. Daniel was able refuse to turn from his Lord because God gave him the strength. Daniel knew that his sins were forgiven, and that in his Savior he was safe. Just as we are. Daniel’s Savior is our Savior. He is the same one who took away our sins and reminds us that his love for us has no end. Despite our weaknesses and failures, God’s promises never falter and his Grace continues on for eternity. Because it isn’t about us. It’s about our God who works everything good in us. Daniel was saved by faith alone. When Paul wrote to his good friend Timothy, he told him about how he had been abandoned when he was on trial. But he knew that he wasn’t alone. While facing off against his accusers he was able to proclaim the Gospel because he knew who stood with him. And he knew that no matter what he happened to him, God would keep him safe from all spiritual harm. “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:17-18) Paul’s confidence came because, just like us and Daniel, God assured him that his sins were wiped away.
And that’s what makes us realize that we are safe. Jesus tells us “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves…you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in synagogues. You will be hated by everyone because of me.” (Matthew 10:16, 17, 22) That’s safe? Daniel was thrown into a pit of hungry lions. Who could possibly rescue him? God did. Paul faced off against the authorities with the threat of death. Who rescued him? God did. Stephen faced off against an angry stone throwing mob. Who rescued Stephen? God did. “Now hold on a minute! You just said that God rescued Stephen, but we know our Bible! Stephen died!” Yes. He most certainly did. But who kept him safe from Spiritual harm? Who kept Stephen and Paul and Daniel and James, and all believers safe in the faith to the point of death? God. Because no matter what threats from the world or Satan that we face, God will watch over us. Yes, we can be imprisoned, beaten, and even face death, but we are safe, because God has declared us innocent of sin. Freed from our guilt by his blood. Even if we find ourselves in a small cave with very hungry lions, remember that your place in heaven in secured. You stand safely in God’s grace. God will give you the power and strength to trust in his Word and to proclaim his truth to any and all who oppose you. “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:19-20, 22) Brothers and sisters in Christ, God has richly blessed you with his unending forgiveness and grace. This is where we are safe. This is where we find security. In a world that is crazy and out of control, God gives us comfort. “Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. Amen.